There has been numerous articles about  orphan work  and the legislation that might be passed. One of the key issue here, is that images posted on websites have absolutely no metadata, making it impossible for even a legitimate buyer to track down the creator of the image.

IPTC has been around for a very, very long time. Even before most photographers ever thought about shooting in digital. But only a minority of very well educated photographers and agencies use it and use it properly. I see a lot of very well designed website who rip the IPTC info when they create thumbnails on the fly. They have really sexy watermarks but contain absolutely no information about how to contact the owner of the image. The worst offenders are sites like Flickr and other photo sharing sites, who do not have any requirements and are flooding the photo world with images created by “unknowns”. Once they leave the Flickr site, these images are untraceable to their owner.
It is like if I built shoes for a living: I would display them on the sidewalk, on a heavily trafficked street preferably, with absolutely no tags or identification. Passer buys would see them, like them, but would be unable to locate me. They would therefore think they are free and just take them. Wouldn’t you? They are really nice shoes after all.
Since there is no central agency to monitor the trade of photography, rules are hard to enforce. One would assume that it would be in the best interest of photographers and agencies to embed, permanently, information regarding the owner of the copyright and where to reach her. Doesn’t seem to be the case. Here are a few thoughts:

1. Most professional cameras allow you to fill in the IPTC fields of images. Fill in the information, at least for the copyright owner once and for all. Every time you will take a picture, the info will be there.
2. All respected photo editing software also contain templates that allow you to add IPTC information in one click. Some, like Adobe Lightroom, will do it on import.

3. Refuse to work with an agency or photo site that doesn’t have a clear identification policy. If they do not care to put some effort into identifying your images properly, they obviously do not care about you. And this should include thumbnails and previews that can be downloaded as comps.

4. If you have a your own website, make sure it respects the IPTC you have in your images, regardless of the size of the image.

5. Teach amateurs that do not care about being paid for usage that they will not even have the pleasure of glory if their images do not have any info in them. I know, you probably think it is not your problem, but when image buyers forget to check the IPTC field for lack of substantial results, you will be the one crying too. We all share the same market therefore we should all feel responsible for its health.
6. Prevention is better than reaction. I am sure your parents already told you so. Of course you can use expensive tracking services but why waste time in trying to collect and get everyone angry when you could have made a nice deal and a new client?

The Orphan Work legislation might just pass because it is such a burden, right now, for an image buyer to locate the owner of a copyright. It will only be the fault of lazy photographers and agencies who have the tools to protect their images but prefer to look the other way until it is too late.

Free shoes anyone ?
On a completely unrelated note and under the category , “The world doesn’t make any sense”.

  • Photoshelter Announces 1 TB RAID Storage for $1000.00 a year, ” With all data backed up on duplicate RAID (redundant array of independent disks) located at opposite ends of the United States, PhotoShelter claims its archiving system is disaster-proof”. The CEO of PhotoShelter, wrote in a post last August, commenting on hardware failure that competitor DigitalRailroad had just suffered that :
“RAID is a good solution, but if/when a drive in your RAID dies, you have to replace it quickly.
If you have two or more failures in your RAID set, the data is useless. And of course, the more drives you have in your RAID set, the higher probability that you will suffer a failure.”

So, is RAID good or not ?

Furthermore, if Photoshelter is looking for other revenue streams, doesn’t that mean their photo marketplace is not working? Are image buyers just not buying ? Since it is a private company, we will probably never know.

  • Automation that just doesn’t work: Stumbled on this website today: PortraitProfessional. It makes the most horrible disfiguration I have ever seen, making pretty girls look that they have just emmerged from of a boxing match with heavy make up.
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